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Itec Connect

The Outcome:

A transformed sales operation where the focus has moved to an Account Management model enabling the company to grow its business through a process of cross and up-selling to its substantial base of satisfied customers while still adding new customers.

“I just wanted to write formally to thank you for delivery of a first class project. In every step you have been a pleasure to work with and have delivered on everything you offered – and more.” Nick Orme, Chief Executive, Itec Connect

The Challenge

Two main factors led Itec to consider a change of direction in its go-to-market approach. Firstly, the company had grown a substantial and very satisfied customer base from its long established sophisticated Managed Print services and Document Capture & Workflow solutions and realised they needed to stay ahead of the game. Secondly the company had recently invested in another organisation that provides a range of Cloud based IT solutions which gives Itec a whole new range of services and solutions that it can offer its customers. Combining these two factors led to the conclusion that the selling model needed to be re-engineered to focus more on account management; enabling the better servicing of customers with established services while also taking the opportunity to offer new and different solutions to those same customers.

The Performative Solution

We undertook the design and delivery of an internal Sales Academy for Itec to recruit and train a cadre of new Account Managers. Before commencing the project we completed a process of “Discovery” using the Performative Sales Maturity Assessment as a foundation. The output from the discovery phase informed the design of the Academy which was developed using the established Performative Academy Framework.

Recruitment of Account Managers

The Account Managers would be fulfilling a new role, focused on the existing customer base. It was an ideal opportunity to bring in new talent and create opportunity for internal candidates to convert to sales. To acquire a new team of 12 required:

  • Sourcing of candidates both externally and from internal transfers
  • Initial filtering and interviews before passing selected candidates to customer for interview
  • Conduct and analysis of the results of an on-line sales capability assessment
  • Design and delivery of a comprehensive assessment process leading to the selection of the final 12 successful candidates who were then offered positions.

Product Manuals – Sales Enablement material

With a broader range of product and service offerings to take to market Itec recognised the need to create collateral to provide a consistent sales and customer oriented resource to support the selling efforts of the new account managers and existing sales staff.

The challenge here was to turn technical excellence into commercial superiority and equip the account managers with effective sales enablement tools.

The subject matter experts knew their products inside out, but they were mainly used to conversing with their technical counterparts. They worked in virtual silos and thus were likely to miss opportunities to cross-sell the offerings of their new colleagues.

The first job was to crystallise the Chief Executive’s vision of the documents into useable templates which provided both structure and guidance on the aims of the content of each section.

The authors were then brought together for an intense 4-day workshop to flesh out the templates. Performative provided briefings for the authors to orient their thinking in terms of Sales and Customer perspective, use of language, and consistency of style.

As the documents took shape, Performative provided collaborators and reviewers for key sections to influence the content style and consistency of terminology across the document set, challenging technical phraseology to replace it with jargon free information to help customers differentiate the Itec offering from that of other suppliers and competitors.

After the initial drafts were produced during the workshops, Performative then took on the role of editor to maintain the sales/customer orientation and consistency within and between the documents, prior to their release to the Itec staff.

On-boarding and induction

Itec already had an established induction programme focused on its recruitment of technical apprentices, but it was not suited to the task of introducing the cadre of new account managers to the wider organisation. Hence we:

  • Designed comprehensive on-boarding and induction programmes for delivery primarily by the customer’s management team
  • Undertook delivery of sales related aspects of the induction programme.

Comprehensive account management and sales L&D programme

Custom designed and delivered by Performative specifically to meet the needs of Itec and the planned mode of operation of the account managers. Some highlights of the training included:

  • Teaching the principles of “Empathy Styles” selling, psychology and body language
  • Creation of a structured account management methodology including research and profiling techniques
  • Sales skills such as; the effective use of the telephone, making appointments, conducting first meetings and delivering presentations
  • Territory, account and deal planning processes including qualification and quantification
  • Relationship management
  • Sales pipeline and forecasting process
  • In addition to the classroom activities we also undertook one-on-one coaching for the account managers at several points during the programme.

Following the training programme, periods of self-study and practical work the account managers went through a process of accreditation which included written and practical examinations of the knowledge they had acquired. We designed and adjudicated all some of the exams. All passed the first level accreditation and they moved into the full role of working with their portfolio of customers. Further accreditation levels will be undertaken later.

Additional activities

In support of the Chief Executive, as he moulded the organisation into its new identity and culture, we provided:

  • Initial design of the compensation scheme for the Account Managers
  • Design of the Account Management process and responsibilities
  • Design of the Account Managers’ reporting process
  • Design and delivery of the support and coaching programme for the Director of Account Management

Following successful completion of the main programme we continue to provide reactive and pro-active support as required.

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Can you distinguish a sales candidate who will serve you well?

Finding the right sales recruit for your business:

While the modern world of business provides many new ways of doing business, most companies are still dependent upon “sales people” when it comes to engaging directly with customers to sell what you do or make.  Times may have moved on but the principles and practice of selling remain the same.  The most important elements of a successful selling operation are still the people who perform the roles such as; lead generation, new business selling, account farming, management and leadership.

At one time, many large and medium companies such as; Olivetti, Xerox, IBM, Burroughs, NCR, Siemens, and Mars, would take, train and develop many hundreds of new sales people every year and when these people moved on, they created an ever growing pool of well trained sales people and sales managers.  Most companies ceased this practice during the 1980s and the supply of those experienced sales people is shrinking.

If sales isn’t your primary strength,  the minefield of identifying the underlying qualities of a salesman and recognising the ones who will succeed in your business can be daunting.  Use the assistance of a qualified third party to provide an unbiased perspective on what’s needed and who fits the bill.  Third parties may charge based on a percentage of recruit’s salary or for time & materials, so you need to decide which approach is most likely to deliver the most accurate result and then select accordingly.

Each recruitment challenge is different, there is no “one size fits all solution”, but key steps include:

  • Ensure any “agent” thoroughly understands your company.
  • Fully understand the job itself and where it fits in the context of the wider organisation; create a job specification and candidate profile.
  • Choose the candidate generation process e.g. on-line recruitment, print media advertising, head-hunting, then create the appropriate “advert”.
  • Initiate the search and identify a quality shortlist based on your ideal profile.
  • Ask probing questions in the interview process, perhaps aided by tools which gauge the candidate’s  “fit”.
  • In the final selection process draw out their abilities and attitudes, e.g. through some sort of practical selling activity including a presentation against a challenging brief.  The nature of a sales person makes it more challenging to uncover the real person because of course they can “tell a good story”, and past performance is not necessarily a reliable indicator of how well they will succeed for you.
  • If you can only find the “best of the bunch”, think hard about whether it is better continue to search for a true match.
  • Once you have found your potential future employee(s) you still need to take up references, make job offers, design the employment contract and commission plan.
  • Prepare a thorough induction programme to ensure they truly become your employee working your way to achieve your aims.

We have successfully helped others, why not let us help you?

“Having Performative involved in crucial sales appointments gave me peace of mind to leave the UK and build our US operation.”

sales ability vs. sales experience

Which is more important – sales ability or sales experience?

The answer in most cases is probably both, but what if you have to choose?  We would argue that capability over experience should drive recruitment decisions and these are the main reasons why:

  • Experience is only a record of the past whereas ability is a signal for what is to come.
  • Is 10 years’ experience really that or is it just one year 10 times over?  During interview you need to look for evidence of progress and development through the period. Confirm your understanding while taking references.
  • Experience of what and in what market? Is their experience absolutely relevant to your proposition and market?  Beware a candidate who may look ideal because they have worked for a company doing similar things to you and in a similar market but this does not allow for what can be significant differences in style, culture and principles.
  • Equally as important as ability are attitude and aptitude. It is common that sales people are recruited for experience and skill but when they don’t perform it is often attitude that causes them to be terminated.  So, do it the other way around; recruit for ability, aptitude and attitude and you are less likely to be disappointed.  Tools from such as Thomas International support this assessment process during recruitment.
  • That same suite of tools can be used to support development and to support a structured appraisal process. This drives individual training and development plans and provides an important and valuable input to on-going development programmes.
  • All new recruits, no matter how experienced, are raw material that you have to mould through a thorough induction and on-going development if they are to deliver at peak levels for you and themselves. If you do not mould them, they will mainly remain the same person that joined you; continuing to do what they have always done and in the same old way.
  • Finally, there needs to be a direct relationship between what you expect of them and how you reward them. The variable element of a rewards package is designed to drive people to perform as you require and as such has an impact on behaviour.  Review reward schemes frequently to ensure they match the current business needs.

Arrk

The Outcome:

Transformed sales team structure and composition to reduce reliance on too few customers and on the Managing Director as the focal point for sales, thereby positioning the company better as an acquisition target.

The Challenge

Arrk is a software development company that focuses on helping its customers improve their bottom line through the imaginative use of web and mobile technologies.

Arrk’s challenge was that it had built a strong, but small, customer base and this had become a risk to the business.  The Managing Director (MD) was also heavily involved in the success of these few customers, thereby compounding the over-reliance position.  At the time of Performative’s project, the MD was interested in the possibility of selling Arrk, so needed to ensure a robust selling operation was in place for the benefit of potential buyers.

The Performative Solution

Performative undertook a Sales Performance Transformation exercise in two stages:

  • Performative initially provided an interim Sales Director, who undertook a range of activities to structure and establish a good team.  These included:
    • Evaluating the capabilities and motivations of Arrk’s existing sales and marketing people through one-on-one interviews and psychometric tests
    • Creating a marketing/lead generation capability
    • Designing and delivering a training and development programme for sales, marketing and sales support staff
    • Managing the sales team and undertaking coaching and mentoring as required
  • In parallel to the sales team work, Performative implemented Performative Structured Selling®, which included:
    • Creating an overarching sales and marketing strategy
    • Reviewing Arrk’s current sales and marketing processes including the bidding processes and standard document used for bidding and proposals
    • Amending existing processes as required and blending with Performative Structured Selling ® to produce a complete sales and marketing approach
    • Documenting the complete process as a sales manual.

IMRglobal

The Outcome:

Over the one year period of the assignment, the customer achieved:

  • Revenue growth of 40% from $158m to $222m
  • Reduction in cost of sale from 9% to 7% equivalent to $8m
  • Reduction in the cost of marketing by $7m.

The Challenge

IMRglobal, a well-established IT solutions provider with a sales force operating in the USA, wanted to grow and expand its reach across the globe:

  • The company had just gone public and needed to conform to the rigorous NASDAQ quarterly reporting requirements.
  • The company embarked on a rapid programme of acquisitions (11 completed in 37 months) in eight countries across four continents.
  • Each acquired business brought its own approach to sales and marketing.  However, a consistent approach was needed across all business units enabling accurate and consistent reporting.
  • Previous consultancy advice, from a reputable company, had led to a global sales training programme, which had not been successful; there was no reinforcement after completion of the courses, there was no corporate sales methodology, and there was no consistent approach to sales management.

The Performative Solution

Performative analysed the situation and convinced the senior management that for any solution to have wide, deep and lasting effect, there needed to be a programme of change across the organisation – not just in the people, but also the underlying infrastructure, methods and processes.   A one year programme was authorised, with the key goal of developing a sales approach that could be easily and consistently implemented in each region.   In our roles as interim global sales and marketing VP the following was achieved during the programme:

  • Developed a new go-to-market model with a supporting sales methodology.
  • Overhauled and restructured the US marketing operation which also functioned as the global marketing function.
  • Profiled, re-structured and rebuilt the sales teams and their compensation schemes.
  • Developed and rolled-out sales skills and process education programmes globally.
  • Developed and implemented a new, more structured, sales management approach.
  • Recruited sales directors and sales managers for the US operation and supported other regions in similar recruitment activities.
  • Continued mentoring and support for a further 18 month period.